Marketing Campaign Planning Tips for Credit Unions in 2021

By: Kenna Smith, VP, Marketing Operations, Advisors Plus Consulting, PSCU

With business operations drastically changed for many credit unions throughout the past year, many are finding it challenging to adapt their marketing budget and strategy to stay relevant in the market – and to cardholders, who are each dealing with their own specific life circumstances. As 2020 comes to a close and the campaign season changes, now is the time for credit unions to step back and consider their marketing planning approach – and how different it could look in the upcoming year.

Meeting Your Cardholders’ Evolving Needs

Consider a marketing planning approach that gives your credit union the ability to pivot quickly while staying top of mind and wallet, while focusing on offering cardholder incentives in a “giving back” framework. This approach will not only help meet the needs of your cardholders, but also your credit union and the local community.

Below are some tips for what your credit union can do to meet your credit and debit cardholders where they are right now and maintain mutually beneficial relationships that last.

For debit cardholders:

  • Credit unions should reach out at least quarterly to keep pulse on card usage.
  • Deliver your credit union’s marketing messages through multi-messaging channels and relate your products to cardholder needs.
  • While times have changed during COVID-19, consider seasonal offerings that could be useful to your cardholders such as spring home improvements, summer travel, fall back-to-school products and winter holidays.
  • Keep in mind that debit is most likely to be the preferred card attached to P2P payments and even mobile wallets, because of smaller ticket size.
  • Reminding members about safety and security is critical as part of your core messaging.

For credit cardholders:

  • Similar to debit cardholders, credit unions should reach out at least quarterly to keep a pulse on card usage and deliver marketing messages via multi-messaging channels to relate products to cardholder needs.
  • For mature portfolios, consider $15-20 in marketing investment per active account annually. Usually, the lower band has a higher level of achievement for credit unions.
  • Consider that the allocation of pure marketing dollars is typically around 60% for new account acquisition (all channels plus advertising) and 40% for account management (usage, lines, etc.).
  • Review your credit union’s introductory rates, promotional rates and rewards as a marketing investment. Keep in mind that Total Marketing Investment = marketing expense + cost of APR discount/bonus reward.

Importantly, COVID-19 has put digital engagement on the fast track for all financial institutions. Digital delivery, multi-channel messaging and staying nimble to meet your cardholders in their preferred channels is becoming the new normal. Staying relevant and consistent requires adapting to the digital shift by connecting products with your card programs and communicating the benefits your cards bring to your members.

Kenna Smith is vice president of marketing operations for PSCU’s Advisors Plus Consulting. In this role, she oversees B2C marketing and operations for Advisors Plus. Smith has over 25 years of product and operations experience in the financial services industry.